ST. PAUL, Minn. -- A St. Paul police officer's quick actions saved the lives of four young girls.
Officer Bill Beaudette was patrolling the city's east side on Thursday when he saw smoke and called 911. He followed the smoke to a home on Case Avenue, where he learned there might be children inside the home.
"I was trying to wait for the fire department," Beaudette said. "I couldn't, because it was starting to fill with smoke."
The veteran officer said that experience told him he needed to act.
"I've seen bad things," he said. "You just put your safety in the back and go."
Beaudette recalled kicking in the home's back door and finding four girls in the home, their ages ranging for 4 years old to 7 years old. One of the girls was sleeping.
"When the door got kicked in they were frightened," Beaudette said. "I calmed them down, and I had to get them out because the smoke started filling in pretty good. And we got out."
The officer's actions were life-saving and heroic, said Deputy St. Paul Fire Chief Ken Adams.
He explained that a fire can double in size every 30 seconds, adding that after 2 minutes and 30 seconds, a room can be deadly.
"One of the things that we know about young children and fires is that they become scared," Adams said. "And when they become scared, they don't go out, they hide. When they hide, it takes us longer to find them."
Beaudette says he was in the right place at the right time.
"I don't know what would have happened if that door would have stayed closed," he said. "I'm just glad they got out, and I'm glad I was here."
Beaudette has served the St. Paul Police Department for 29 years. He is the most senior officer in the city.
Beaudette was present when the girls were reunited with family.
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